In Diane Kurys' autobiographical 1977 coming-of-age film, set in Paris in 1963 and '64, 13-year-old Anne (Eléonore Klarwein) lives with her divorcée mother and older sister, the 15-year-old Frédérique (Odile Michel). Though Peppermint Soda is a mostly plotless slice of life, don't forget that everything tends to feel much more dramatic when you're Anne or Frédérique's age -- nothing here is boring. All Anne wants to do is wear pantyhose like the cool girls in school and pass the school year, and then, bam, the growing pains hit and everything gets intense.
Whereas Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade boasts a rare authenticity in its depiction of how eighth-graders interact in the digital age, and also of the painfully awkward period of acne and Hollister shirts, Kurys' girls are of a more aspirational mind. Even Anne is straight out of a sartorial mood board, outfitted in trench coats, ruffled blouses, headbands, beach looks to rival Rohmer girls. But Peppermint Soda feels timeless and relatable while also specific to its era -- Kurys herself was between Anne and Frédérique's ages in the years the film takes place.
At a time when politics is seen as impolite, Frédérique joins a committee at school to fight fascism when politics are frowned upon. She sells peace sign badges, and gets in a fight with a girl who declares, "I don't like commies or Jews." We see a growing sense of unrest that the teachers try to squash during the girls' prime years of identity-shaping, a dissatisfaction that anticipates the upheaval France would face in 1968.